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by Serge Kahili King

One of the most perplexing problems that people have is how to deal with their feelings. Just experiencing some of them is hard enough, but people are further confused by various recommendations to "go ahead and feel them," "let them take you to their source," "analyze them," "go ahead and express them," and "change them." It's not surprising that some of these recommendations seem to contradict each others. Perhaps it will be helpful to consider dealing with feelings in terms of "stages."

Stage 1: You get a mildly unpleasant feeling that doesn't really interfere with your work or relationships. It could have a multitude of sources, from burnt toast for breakfast to someone else's emotional spillover. It isn't worth being concerned about. Turn your attention to something else and it will automatically transform itself.

Stage 2: You get a more unpleasant feeling that does interfere with work and relationships and your own self-esteem. First step, find some way to express it without disrupting your work or relationships. If you can express it safely to someone else, fine; otherwise, do it when alone or in your imagination. Often this process alone will transform the feeling into something more positive. If not, take step two, which is paying attention to your thoughts and to your environment (including people) when the feeling comes on. In this way you can learn to pinpoint the source of the feeling and deal with that. It might involve changing ideas or opinions; using a mental or energetic technique; or changing your environment (even a cluttered desk can be depressing). If you can deal successfully with the source, the feeling will change automatically.

Stage 3: You have a recurring or constant unpleasant feeling that interferes with your effectiveness. You have found the source as far as you can tell and have tried to deal with it, but this hasn't worked very well. In all likelihood, the feeling is linked to a habitual idea about yourself or about life, but just knowing that won't change it, and just saying you are changing it won't change it either. I won't kid you, the solution at this stage requires effort. It will mean consciously and with determination forcing yourself to behave differently and think differently in spite of how you feel. You don't force yourself to think of something unrelated at this stage (that may work with Stage 1 or 2), because here that will only result in suppression. Instead, you force yourself to think and behave in a way that is the direct opposite of the feeling. Consciously and on purpose you generate the opposite feeling, too. You break the old habit by replacing it with a new one, and you maintain the effort until the job is done.

Here is a simple guideline for a difficult process. I call it the Triple Whammy FUDS-buster (FUDS = fear, unhappiness, doubt, stress):
1. Increase your energy (breathe deeply and slowly)
2. Bless the present (change negative words to positive words)
3. Trust yourself (change negative thoughts to positive thoughts)
4. Expect the best (change negative posture to positive posture)

It works, but only if you use it.

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